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by which they seek to secure it. We have shown that those grounds are untenable, and that those means are fitted only to defeat the end for which they are adopted. He who wants more than justice will give him, wants what lie cannot have without injustice to others. Our doctrine will satisfy no such man, and we should be satistied with no doctrine that would. He who wishes for liberty without obedience to law wishes for what never has been and never can be. An authority which does not restrain, which is only an instrument to be used when it serves our purpose, and to be cast off the moment it can no longer serve it, is no legitimate authority, is not a government at all. If we have government, it must govern, and we must obey it, even when to obey it may be a restraint on our private feelings and passions, for it is only at this price that we can purchase immunity from the private feelings and passions of others. Nothing is, then, in reality more unwise than to cherish an impatience of restraint and a spirit of insubordination. The sooner we learn the difficult lesson of obedience, the better will it be for us. We cannot, if we would, have every thing our own way; and perhaps it would not be to our advantage, if we could. Life has, and as long as the world stands will have, its trials, and, however impatient we may be, there is and will be much which we can conquer only by learning to bear it. It is easy to stir up a revolution, to subvert a throne or a dynasty ; but to reëstablish order, to readjust the relations of man with man, of prince with subject and subject with prince, so as to remove all evils and satisfy every wish,—this is labor, this is work, which no mortal man has ever yet been equal to. A man could lose paradise, bring sin, death, and all our woe into the world ; only a God could repair the damage, . and restore us to the heaven we had forfeited.
Our doctrine, just at this moment, may be unpopular, and we know it will put no money into our pocket, and bring us no applause; but this is not our fault, nor a reason why we should withhold it. Having never yet pandered to popular prejudices, or sought to derive profit from popular passions and fallacies, we shall not attempt to do it now. We love our country, perhaps, as much as some others who make much more parade of their patriotism; and we love liberty, it may be, as well, and are likely to serve it as effectually, as onr young revolutionists in whom reason “sleeps and declamation roars." . We have, indeed, a tolerable pair of lungs, and if not a musical, at least a strong voice; we know and conld use all the commonplaces of our young patriots, and reformers,—nay, we think we could, if we were to try, beat them at their own trade, grave and staid as we have become; but we have no disposition to enter the lists with them. We have never seen any good come from the declamatory speeches and fiery patriotism of boys just escaped the ferule of the pedagogue, and who can give utterance to nothing but puerile rant about liberty and patriotism. We have never seen good come to a country whose counsellors were young men with downy chins, and we set it down as a rule, that the country in which they can take the lead, whatever else it is fitted for, is not fitted for the liberty which comes through popular institutions
We can weep as well as our juniors over a nation robbed of its rights, on whose palpitating heart is planted the iron heel of the conqueror, and have the will, if not the power, to strike, if we can but see a vulnerable spot, or a chance that the blow will tell upon the tyrant. But, as a general thing, we have a great distaste for the valor that evaporates in words, though they be great and high-sounding words, well chosen, skilfully arranged, and admirably pronounced; and an equal distaste even for deeds which recoil upon the actor, and aggravate his sufferings, already too afflicting to behold. We believe it wise to bide one's time, and to take counsel of prudence. In most cases, the sufferings of a people spring from moral causes beyond the reach of civil government, and they are rarely the best patriots who paint them in the most vivid colors, and rouse up popular indig. nation against the civil authorities. Much more effectual service could be rendered in a more quiet and peaceful way, by each one seeking, in his own immediate sphere, to remove the moral causes of the evils endured. St. Vincent of Paul was a far wiser and more successful patriot than the greatest of your popular orators, declaimers, and songsters. He, humble-minded priest, had no ambition to shine, no splendid scheme of world or state reform. He thought only of saving his own soul, by doing the work that lay next hiin; and he became the benefactor of his age and his country, and in his noble institutions of charity he still lives, and each year extends his influence and adds to the millions who are recipients of his bounty. O ye who would serve your country, relieve the suffering, solace the afflicted, and right the wronged, go iinitate St. Vincent of Paul, and Heaven will own you and posterity revere you.
THE REPUBLIC OF THE UNITED STATES.*
[From Brownson's Quarterly Review for April, 1849.)
As an electioneering document, this flimsy production with a pompous title might be suffered to pass without animadversion ; but regarded as a grave work, intended to instruct the American people in their political rights and duties, or to defend the late war with Mexico and the general policy of the Democratic party, the only merit we can award it, if indeed so much, is that which the author says is the only merit he claims,-namely, the purity of its motives. The author is neither a scholar nor a statesman. His philosophizing on history and the formation and growth of nations is borrowed from a bad school; his statements are entitled to no credit; his principles are unsound and pernicious; and his reasoning is seldom logical or conclusive. The sum and substance of his work is: This is a great country; we are a great people; and the greatness of the country and of the people is all due to the expansive democracy.
We yield to no man in the interest we take in the real progress and welfare of the American people; but we are thoroughly disgusted with the ignorance and inflated vanity of our pretended patriots. We have no sympathy with those who are continually saying, Isn't this a great country? Are not we a great people? Territorially considered, we ure a great country; and in our ceaseless activity and industrial enterprise, we are a great people; but that we are great in any other sense does not yet appear. We have shown ourselves great neither in art nor science, neither in religion nor morals, neither in statesmanship nor general or special intelligence. We have, in fact, nothing whereof to boast; and a rigid self-examination would convince us that we have inade, instead of the most, the least of the advantages with which Providence has favored us.
* The Republic of the United States of America: its Duties to itself and its Responsible Relations to other Countries. Embracing also a Revier of the Late War between the United States and Mer its Causes and its Results, and of those Measures of Gorernment which have characterized the Democracy of the Union. New York: 1818.
Indeed, we are usually disposed to distrust the head or the heart of the American who makes loud pretensions to love of country. A man must have a country before he can love it, and it must have been for a long series of ages the home of his fathers before he can feel his bosom glow with genuine patriotism. Our population is too recent, too floating, too little fixed to any particular locality, to feel that it has a country,--to be capable of that strong attachment to its native land, to the scenes and associations of home, without which patriotism does not and cannot exist. The grandfathers of comparatively few of us were born on the soil we inhabit. There are few homesteads in the country that have been held from father to son through three generations. We have no ancestral halls; we have no ancestors; but are, in some sense, ourselves our own sires. There are few spots in the country around which many memories can cluster, few shrines the pilgrim heart can visit, few materials for national poetry. Our poets cannot find a song without going abroad. We are only a huge trading town, in which business men from all parts of the world are temporarily congregated for purposes of gain or livelihood, each with his own local associations and attachments, and speaking his mother tongue, unknown to all but himself. "The people of the United States, as a whole, have very little in common. They have not a common origin; they have not even a common national name, or any common national associations. Ilow, then, can they have genuine patriotism,that deep, loyal, ineradicable attachment to one's natal soil which we are accustomed to express by that word? We may have national vanity, national pride, and be ready to uphold the rights or the interests of our country against all others; yet true love of country we have not, and it is rarely that without an effort we bring ourselves to say, my country.
We say not this by way of reproach. The thing was inevitable. It is no fault of the race or races which have taken possession of the country. The great bulk of our people are of English, German, and Irish descent, and no people are more remarkable for love of country than those from whom we have sprung. In their own respective countries they are patriots; but, torn froin their batal soil, and transplanted to a strange land, they cannot at once feel themselves at home; they cannot transfer at once to this strange land those affections which fastened them to England, Germany, or Ireland, hallowed by the joys and sorrows, the fears and hopes, the loves and hates, the toils and struggles of their forefathers from time immemorial. How can we sing the songs of our fatherland in a strange country? Time, no doubt, will correct the evil, and cure the defect. In time, we shall grow into a nation, be melted into one people, and find ourselves at home in this western world. Then we shall have genuine patriotism,—that patriotism which springs from the heart. But now the less we say of patriotism, the more will it be to our credit. The less we boast, the less we affect the language, in speaking of the United States, which the people of other countries adopt in speaking of their native land, the more good sense and the better taste shall we exhibit. We must have a household before we
can without affectation use household words. We wish our young authors who affect so much Americanism would bear this in mind, and talk of things which are, and not of things which are not.
We can sympathize with those who are struck with the greatness and magnificence, under a material point of view, of the United States, and even with those who indulge high hopes for the American people. That the American people have a destiny we do not doubt; that they have a great and glorious destiny we would fain hope; that they are on the road to such a destiny we have yet to be convinced. At any rate, writers like the one before us, whose highest ambition appears to be to court them, to strengthen their dangerous tendencies, and flatter their corrupt passions, are not likely to aid them in attaining it. There may be courtiers in a republic as well as in a monarchy, and their influence is no more to be deprecated in the latter than in the former. The principle on which the courtier acts is that the pleasure of the sovereign is the rule of right and wrong. His study is to find out and anticipate his sovereign's pleasure. It is the same in a democracy. Under a democracy, the people are held to be the sovereign, and the democratic courtiers make it their study to ascertain the popular instincts, wishes, or passions, and to provide as far as possible for their gratification. They hold, as a principle, that popular instincts and passions are infallible, and not only maintain that it is lawful for the people in all cases to follow them, but denounce all who assert the contrary as enemies to the people, as the friends of tyrants and tyranny, as deserving the reprobation of both God and men. They get the ear of the sovereign, and will let him hear no voice but theirs. They